- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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In advance of attending the NFL combine in Indianapolis later this month, ESPNBoston.com has identified 10 prospects it wants to learn more about. Along those lines, Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. is helping provide background and insight from his time studying tape and attending all-star games such as the Senior Bowl.
Player: Kyle Long
Position: Offensive tackle/offensive guard
Height/weight: 6-foot-6, 304 pounds
Why he's on the radar: Starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is scheduled for unrestricted free agency, and if he doesn't return, adding another young blocker with potential tackle-guard versatility could help.
Projection: Second/third rounds.
Muench's take: "Long’s story is one of the more interesting ones in this year’s class. The son of Hall of Famer Howie Long and brother of St. Louis Rams DE Chris Long, he didn’t play football until his sophomore year of high school. Even though Long played well enough to draw the attention of some notable programs, the southpaw pitcher accepted a baseball scholarship to Florida State. Academic issues and a DUI arrest derailed his career with the Seminoles so Long enrolled at Saddleback Community College, where it should come as no surprise he played defensive line. However, he switched over to the offensive line in 2011, excelled, and accepted a scholarship to Oregon where he’s played well. Another year at Oregon would have benefitted Long but the NCAA denied his appeal for another year of eligibility so he will be a member of the 2013 draft class. In terms of the film, his relative inexperience shows up at times. He can be late recognizing different pressure packages and fail to locate his assignment. In addition, his versatility is overrated. Though he’s played tackle and he moves well for his size, he’s a better fit on the inside. He has short arms (32.1) for his frame, and as athletic as he is, he’d have a tough time protecting the edge at the NFL level because of it. Long is an intriguing Day 2 possibility because he has the frame, initial burst, power and agility to quickly develop into a starting guard. Plus he’s reportedly matured and learned from his mistakes. If that’s the case, there’s little reason to think he won’t continue to get better with experience."